US Open 2018: Tiger Woods Struggles in Round 1 — Like Everyone Else


Tiger Woods finished at +8 after opening with a triple bogey and struggling on the back nine Thursday during Round 1 of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y.

Dennis Schneidler/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — There were 156 golfers in the field at the start of the United States Open on Thursday. By the end of the day, only four them could boast about scores under par.

An unforgiving course coupled with wind fit for the British Open made Shinnecock Hills Golf Club a nightmare for many, including some of golf’s biggest names. Rory McIlroy (10 over par), Jason Day (+9), Jordan Spieth (+8), Jon Rahm (+8), Phil Mickelson (+7), and Tiger Woods (+8) all put themselves in a fight just to make the cut for the weekend.

But every player in the field finished with at least one bogey. The few who managed to make sure those bad holes didn’t snowball into a bad round found themselves near the top of the leaderboard, although not by much.

Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, Russell Henley and Scott Piercy hold a share of the lead at one-under par, while Jason Dufner carded an even-par 70. Eight players, including Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, finished at a one-over 71.

“It was extremely windy, extremely difficult,” Poulter said. “So to come off the golf course under par is extremely satisfying.”

The wind gusted at 15 to 20 mph in the morning, when McIlroy, Spieth and Mickelson went out as a marquee grouping. All three had won multiple major tournaments, and all three had expectations of contending this week.

But quickly, those high expectations receded. Spieth tripled his second hole, the par-3 11th, while McIlroy had back-to-back double bogeys on the 13th and 14th. Mickelson bogeyed three of his first four holes.

They were hardly alone in their struggles. How relentless the course can be — and how quickly a round can spiral out of control — was exemplified by Woods, who triple-bogeyed the first hole in his first appearance in the U.S. Open since 2015.

Woods steadied himself on the front nine and was even striking the ball well, hitting six of the first seven fairways. But his putter let him down. A four-putt for a double bogey on the 13th followed by another double bogey on the 14th sent him back down into the hole he had nearly escaped.

It was only the sixth time in his career that Woods had carded three double bogeys or worse in a single round.

But it was hard to predict how anybody might fare. Piercy said he walked off the course after just four holes Wednesday because he was so frustrated by his play. Then he shot 69 on Thursday.

“I didn’t really expect this this morning,” Piercy said. “Just kind of regrouped last night, tried to go back to a couple things that have worked throughout the year. I was able to piece it together again.”

The wind was a big factor. So was the thick fescue, much of it imported by the United States Golf Association to penalize players after they widened the fairways following the 2004 U.S. Open here.

It was so thick that one player, Mickey DeMorat, had to take a two-stroke penalty when he hit the wrong ball out of the rough on the 14th hole.

“You never see three-foot deep rough eight feet off a fairway,” Poulter said. “That’s why you’ll see the scores you see.”

Read more about what happend in Round 1 below.

No. 18: Rocky Round 1 Ends With a Par Putt

A nice chip shot on 18 came close to going in. But, alas, Woods needed to take out his putter one last time, tapping in for a 78 with his 30th putt of what became a very long day.

The putter let him down, most notably on the first and the 13th hole, but also at various points throughout. He could not deliver on makable birdie looks available because of how well he was striking the ball early on. He hit six of seven fairways on the front nine but only three of seven on the back as his round fell apart.

On the bright side, his score is the same as Jordan Spieth’s, and he outplayed Rory McIlroy (+10). But there is little consolation for Woods after his first round in the U.S. Open since 2015.

No. 17: Same Story, Different Hole

A 40-foot birdie putt for Woods on the par-3 17th missed by a few feet, and he heads to the final hole hoping to get off this treacherous course without more damage done. His pal, Justin Thomas, isn’t having much fun out here either. He’s now three-over on the back.

No. 16: Sand Save Sets Up Birdie Try

On the 620-yard par-5 16th, Woods delivered a nice drive and then made a nice sand save after his second shot to set himself up with an uphill birdie look from a little over 10 feet.

He wanted it. He needed it. He missed it.

He’s plus-eight as he goes to the final two holes.

No. 15: Tiger Saves Par But Needs More

Tiger Woods saves par on the 15th after recovering from another imperfect tee shot that went into the first cut of the rough. With three holes left, he is desperate for something to spark for him. He remains at eight-over.

No. 14: Back-to-Back Double Bogeys for Woods

It has gone from bad to worse for Tiger.

On the 14th, a horrendous tee shot landed him way deep in the fescue. He then yanked a shot into the gallery short and way left of the green, deep in more fescue. He couldn’t reach the green from there, so he had to hack out and salvage what he could. Unfortunately, he missed a 10-foot bogey putt to settle for his second consecutive double.

His demeanor, rightly, has taken a 180-degree turn south.

No. 13: … And There Goes the Momentum

It was a very unlucky 13th for Tiger Woods.

A brutal four-putt — including three putts from within six feet — has dropped Woods into a tie for 82nd at six-over par and killed any momentum he had gathered after recovering from a triple bogey to start his round.

Woods was looking at a six-foot putt for par and spent a lot of time analyzing how to navigate it. His putt wound up skating past the hole by a few feet. But when he missed that comebacker, he gripped the putter face in his right hand and looked like he was close to snapping the club across his knee. That’s just a killer for Tiger, who had worked so hard to get himself back to within striking distance.

No. 12: Tiger Waiting for the Perfect Putt

After a nice drive and a short approach, Tiger burned the edge with a putt from off the green to finish with a par at the 12th. He continues to look great off the tee (7 of 9 fairways hit) but is waiting for a clutch putt to finally fall.

No. 11: Back to Bogey

They call it a par-3 that plays like a par-5. And while Dustin Johnson drained his lengthy putt for his fourth birdie of the day, taking him to three-under par, Tiger Woods couldn’t make a sand save after his tee shot fell short. So he drops his first stroke since the second hole, now at four-over par.

No. 10: It Wasn’t His Fault

On the 10th, Tiger Woods missed the fairway and then came up short with his approach, which left him with a 30-yard pitch shot onto a tough elevated green. He left himself with some work to save par. As he approached the putt, it appeared the ball slightly moved, causing a shudder through the crowd. But an official came over and deemed it was not a penalty. Tiger sank the putt to save the par.

Front-Nine Recap: Tiger’s Still in Contention

Tiger Woods has made the turn in a tie for 35th at +3, but he steadied himself nicely after a nightmarish opening hole.

Woods looked unprepared for the treacherous greens and gusty winds at Shinnecock Hills. On the first, he needed five shots to get on the green — including an embarrassing putt from the fringe that rolled back to his feet — and finished with a triple-bogey 7 to begin his first U.S. Open appearance since 2015. He then bogeyed No. 2 to fall into a deep hole.

But, unlike Rory McIlroy and some others out here, he managed to steady himself quickly before the wheels completely fell off. In fact, Woods swung exceptionally well, hitting all but one fairway on the front. He birdied the par-5 fifth and missed some other birdie efforts, but all in all he has done well to keep himself in contention halfway through Round 1.

No. 9: Solid Turnaround Before the Turn

After another par on the tricky ninth hole, Tiger will make the turn holding steady at three-over.

He has got to be pleased with that turnaround after the triple-bogey, bogey start. He hit all but one fairway on the front nine. If he starts making some of those midrange putts, he’ll be in business. He also just looks serene out there, laughing and joking with his buddy, Justin Thomas, who is also playing well.

No. 8: Not Ideal, But Not So Bad

Who needs a putter?

Dustin Johnson holes out from the bunker on eight to move back into a tie for the lead at two-under par. It certainly made up for a disappointing wedge approach from only about 100 yards after an absolutely monstrous drive downwind.

Woods had another birdie look but missed the putt left. He is really swinging nicely now, but the putter remains less than reliable. Still only five strokes behind the leader.

No. 7: Saved by the Rough

Another really good birdie look for Tiger on the par-3 seventh after his tee shot went a little short of the hole and trickled down toward the left bunker. A slim cut of rough that wasn’t there in 2004 saved it from sinking into the trap, and Woods took advantage. He came inches from making the birdie and tapped in for par to remain at three-over.

No. 6: A Helping Hand from Tiger

Tiger had a 19-foot birdie try on the difficult sixth hole but it fell just short. So he finishes with a par and will look ahead to another brutal hole: the par-3 seventh and its famously slick green.

Tiger found other ways to contribute on the sixth hole, though. After Dustin Johnson’s tee shot went into the fescue, it took about 20 people to dig around in the tall grass to find it. Among those who lent a hand: Tiger Woods.

No. 5: Tiger Nails First Birdie

The world No. 1 is stealing the show at Shinnecock.

Back-to-back birdies by Dustin Johnson (-2) has him trailing Russell Henley by one stroke after taking advantage of the par-5 fifth hole, which has been arguably the easiest hole on the course today. Johnson is really rolling the ball well, and that is always going to be the key for him considering how incredibly well he drives the ball.

His groupmate, Tiger Woods, also birdied to get back to three over par for his round. But Woods definitely looks like his game has settled down after a rocky first two holes.

No. 4: Tiger Holds Par

After his tee shot left him with an awkward, sidehill lie for his second shot, Woods manages to get up and down nicely again from behind the green. This was easily his nicest chip shot of the day, off a very tight lie around the green. He holds on for a par.

Meanwhile, after getting up and down for par on each of the first three holes, Dustin Johnson is now in the red with a birdie on the fourth.

No. 3: Woods Bounces Back With a Beautiful Drive

Tiger answers with a par on the third hole after a beautiful drive and a nice second shot that went just off the back of the green. But, this time, he managed to get up and down without incident. He’ll move on to the fourth hole, which has played as one of the easiest of the day.

No. 2: Tiger’s Par Putt Rolls Away

Things did not get much better for Woods at the second hole.

On this mammoth par-3, he tried to cut a low 2-iron underneath the wind and onto the green, but it trickled off the back. But he could not get up and down, missing a short par putt for a bogey 4.

At least it’s a slight improvement from Hole 1.

No. 1: Tiger Starts With a Triple-Bogey

Welcome back to the U.S. Open, Tiger!

In his first appearance in the Open since 2015, Woods got a taste of what most of the field has already experienced: This course is tough.

After a nice opening drive, Tiger flew the green with his second shot, then came up short with a chip shot that he was clearly trying to play safe. And that backside of the green is awfully slick. For his fourth shot, he tried to putt it up to the surface but didn’t make it. The ball trickled slowly, slowly, back down to his feet.

He put a little more oomph into his next putt, which left him with about eight feet for double bogey. But he missed that putt as well. So it’s a triple-bogey 7 to start the round for Tiger Woods. He’s now got a 255-yard par 3 into the wind to look forward to!

Tiger Time

Tiger Woods has teed off at the first hole, starting his 20th U.S. Open appearance. He’s won three times. The last time the Open was at Shinnecock, in 2004, Tiger finished tied for 17th at +10.

Today he’s grouped with Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, the world No. 1.

A Tale of Two Scotts

Ian Poulter is in the clubhouse with a 69, and he’s in good company: He and Scott Piercy are the only players to shoot under par so far through Round 1 on Thursday.

Meanwhile, fellow Englishman Scott Gregory did not have such a great round. The 2016 British Amateur champ did not manage a single birdie on his way to carding a 92, or 22-over par. It’s the first round over 90 at a U.S. Open since Felix Casas shot 92 at Bethpage in 2002.

Rory McIlroy, left, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson have all shot well over par during the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Not-So-Super Group

Phil Mickelson. Jordan Spieth. Rory McIlroy. It sounded like a great group to follow in the first round … but it hasn’t turned out that way. To be fair, no one is playing all that well today with the wind, but take a look at these scores through 16 holes:

• McIlroy +9

• Mickelson +6

• Spieth +8

Ouch.

Ugly Misses for a Spiraling Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy came into the U.S. Open this week feeling so good about his game that he was happy to have an early tee time on Thursday. But things have spiraled out of control quickly for the 2011 U.S. Open champion.

Starting on the back nine, back-to-back double bogeys on the 13th and 14th put him in a deep hole and things continued to only get worse. Another 6 on the par-4 first hole followed by a bogey on the second saw his score at 10-over par after just 11 holes. Yikes.

McIlroy has hit only 21.3 percent of greens in regulation, and some of his misses have been ugly. After hitting into a fairway bunker on the 16th, he failed to clear the lip of the trap and the ball bounced straight up in the air.

Birdies on the fifth and sixth have mitigated some of the carnage on his scorecard, but he is still looking at a score approaching the 80s.

Wind is Wreaking Havoc Early; Worse Coming

Most players at Shinnecock should know that the wind is always a factor. Not sure they expected Round 1 to go like this, though.

The wind has been blowing steadily at 15 to 20 mph throughout the morning and gusts are expected to reach 30 mph in the afternoon. This has made things challenging not just for driving and approaching, but tricky for putting as well.

On the par-4 14th, Scott Stallings reached the green in three and then needed six putts to finish the hole. The second hole, a 255-yard par 3 that is playing into the wind, has also been nightmarish for a lot of groups.

Looking for Birdie

Jason Day has bogeyed eight of the 14 holes he’s played so far today, and he shot each of the other six at par. It’s been a rough round for most players who teed off this morning. Only two — Scott Piercy and Ian Poulter — are under par.

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